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Reflections on Apple iPad

February 7, 2010
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Since Steve Jobs introduced Apple iPad — the most anticipated device from Apple for a long time — in his keynote presentation on Jan 27 2010, there have been wows and woos. Actually from what I read, more complaints than compliments.

For instance, Adam Frucci from Gizmodo talks about “8 Things That Suck About the iPad” (well, more than eight):

  • Big, Ugly Bezel [it's not a smartphone]
  • No Multitasking
  • No Cameras
  • Touch Keyboard
  • No HDMI Out [don't care]
  • The Name iPad [don't care]
  • No Flash [don't like flash much]
  • Adapters, Adapters, Adapters
  • It’s Not Widescreen [not really necessary for reading or photo viewing]
  • Doesn’t Support T-Mobile 3G [ don't care]
  • A Closed App Ecosystem

I don’t agree all of them, excepted the highlighted ones. Especially people’s rants on the size and name. If they were given one smaller than Kindle’s size, they were likely to say “Tiny”. Come on, it’s not a pocket smartphone. As for the name, well, it’s a matter of taste but it really doesn’t bother me at all. Don’t people use pad and pen in the meeting? Do they feel awkward or funny when using them?

What really bother me are: its closed app ecosystem and the special adapter. I just bought my first iPod Touch this Jan. Though I like my little gadget on hand, I don’t appreciate its closed app strategy. The unique connector makes the connection and charging etc more awkward (Dock-to-USB, USB-to-power plug, Camera kit for Camera or SD card reader).

If people really read what Mr. Job said in his keynote, they would understand why iPad doesn’t match with their expectation.

“Far better at some key things” Mr. Job said, “… for a third category something between iPhone and laptop.”

The tasks include:

  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Games
  • eBooks

To Mr. Job (or Apple), netbook isn’t the answer. “Netbook is just a cheap laptop.” It’s still in the laptop category. This “new” thing is also not a touch-screen laptop, tablet, as we often call it.

So, what is it? Remember “something between iPhone and laptop”. This new thing, iPad as we now all know, is actually a BIG iPod Touch.

iPod Touch, starting from the iPod family, can do more than listening to music but with a small 3.5″ screen it doesn’t do a better job in other things than the laptop. That’s the logic behind this product iPad. Then you can probably understand why it doesn’t support real multitasking — it’s not a laptop or tablet.

As for the camera part, I do wish that my iPod Touch can take some snapshots. People can use it for video chat. But that task is not on Mr. Job’s list of “some key things”. Is it because it would compromise the battery life (10 hours)? :? And how about a built-in SD card slot to make file transfer easier? The old Palm PDAs even allow running some program in a SD card.

Darren Beckett creates this chart for comparing Apple’s three categories of portable devices:

Therefore iPad is more like a multimedia eReader. In that sense, Mr. Beckett also made the table for price comparing with other eReaders:

As I recall when Amazon’s Kindle came out, Mr. Job was asked about what he thought about ebook reader and he didn’t think people would want a simple ebook reader. There are some people who don’t like reading in laptop or smartphone because of the LCD screen, so they choose ebook readers with E-Ink display. On the other hand, there are some people who don’t like these ebook readers because they only can read books (or listen to audiobooks, some music) with black-and-white screen. This is also a matter of taste or need. However, in my opinion, reading experience is quite limited in these E-Ink readers unless they can offer the color display (some news articles said there may be a color Kindle this year; let’s see).

Besides, with this bigger screen and on-screen touch keyboard, I would expect iPad would be a good device for note taking or productivity if there’s a proper application designed for it. For instance, better experience than using EverNote in iPhone or OneNote in laptop.

Whether iPad is your thing depends on what you want in a mobile device. It is certainly not a device for all. I just wonder, will there be a similar device to complete with Apple? :|

* PS: I also don’t like the operational principles in Mac OS. Apple creates an operating system that have all the stuff to fit all kinds of need. For instance, it includes all the printer drivers and supports all kind of camera raw formats. But those are garbage to me. Why cannot I download the driver when I really need it over the internet?

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